Friday, June 7, 2013

Hillwood: Living Artfully

This past week I had the opportunity to preview the new exhibit at the Hillwood estate here in DC: Living Artfully, at home with Marjorie Merriweather Post. I've written about Hillwood many times in the past and am lucky enough to live just a few blocks away. This new exhibit provides some new thrilling opportunities previously unseen at Hillwood!
The exhibit is actually more of an event as parts are to be found throughout the estate focusing on Marjorie's role as hostess at her 4 main estates: Hillwood, Mar-A-Lago, TopRidge, and her yacht, the Sea Cloud.
I'm most excited about this exhibit because this is what I find so fascinating about house museums: I want to know how people actually LIVED. The image above show the dining room with its Mar-A-Lago dining table shown uncovered for a change and set as for a dinner at her Palm Beach estate. Information, photographs, and videos make you feel as though you yourself were a guest!
However the most exciting thing to come out of this exhibit are areas previously unseen in the mansion have been refurbished so they can be opened to the public. Above you see the very utilitarian 50's wetbar located just outside of the Pavilion where Marjorie hosted square dancing as well as first-run movies.
Interesting tidbit; Marjorie's staff were all welcome to watch the movies along with her guests and in the prime spot no less. Staff watched the movie from the balcony while guests sat below in Jansen styled sofas.
Located just off the main entry hall, the ladies powder room has also been opened to the public for the first time (seen above). Family wedding photos are displayed here gallery style on silk bedecked walls.
Check out the period fixtures including pink toilet paper! Interestingly enough, Marjorie purchased home fragrances in such bulk that the museum still has a quantity and uses it to this day in specific areas of the house (smells rather like face powder).
Located just off Marjorie's bedroom suite, her personal beauty parlor is also now open to the public. More photographs of family and friends are adjacent to the latest technology in haircare of the day.
As part of the exhibit the closets are fully stocked as when Marjorie is in residence. At the time her personal maid, Eva Zackrisson, would bring a week's worth at a time down from the main closet in the attic.  Also shown are adorable hooked bathmats used at her numerous houses. As you can see Marjorie loved pink!
 Above you see a collection of her day-wear along with coordinating hats.
Beneath some of her jewelry a small collection of her Bob Inc shoes are shown in different shades to match her numerous ensembles; for both day and evening.
Yet another closet in the dressing area houses some of her evening gowns from 1958-1964 on custom crocheted hangers. Who doesn't want to see this stuff!?
One more space open to the public is a basement bomb shelter (one of 4 on the estate). Notice the pink?  Marjorie provided enough space in the shelters for all of her staff: a gracious hostess as well as a gracious employer.
 Items from her yacht, Sea Cloud, are exhibited in the library.
 Including her custom embroidered shoes which she would occasionally wear on board.
The Snooze Room lies at the top of the main staircase and was where a guest could rest while visiting for the day. It also provided a small separate bedroom for children to the adjacent guest suite.
Out in the Adirondack Pavilion collections from Marjorie's summer house in the mountains, Top Ridge, are displayed.
 I loved this canoe!
 Marjorie even had luggage specifically for each location -notice the tag on the case above?
And what is a society hostess without her napkins embroidered in her monogram. I'll leave you with the adorable little dog annunciation device Marjorie used at Top Ridge.
Everyone must go to Hillwood to see this wonderful exhibit and remember, the collections are updated constantly with always something new to see! The exhibit will run from June 8, 2013 until January 12, 2014.


Michael Ryan said...

Great post! Loved the canoe as well. Have a terrific weekend.

Shelley said...

Looks great. Can't wait to go!

Kerry Steele- Design du Monde said...

That is so awesome. I need to go!

Windlost said...

How fabulous. I didn't make it to Hillwood (David thought it sounded boring) but it's on the list for next time. You do live in the most amazing place...!

I love love love those shoes...
xo T.

Deana Sidney said...

I was just having a mini conversation about this with Emile at the NT site. I LOVE seeing all the details. It makes everything so much richer and deeper. I mean, don't you hate 'decorated' places that are cold and impersonal? They look like something out of the Twilight Zone... who lives there???

I'm with Windlost, LOVE the shoes but also love following your eyes around the place... an education in itself. What we notice says a lot about us, doesn't it?

Great post.

Mark D. Ruffner said...

I agree that Hillwood is a great visit for anyone visiting Washington, D. C. As I recall, reservations might be required. Few people were as detail-oriented as Marjorie Merriweather Post!

The Devoted Classicist said...

Hillwood is probably the only D.D. museum on my list that I have never visited. And I love behind-the-rope areas that are not usually seen in house museums; they really add to the experience and help show how the house was used. I have seen photos of striped aluminum umbrellas over tables in the garden; are they still there?

Woodside Park said...

I can't wait to see this new exhibit! We are lucky to have this magnificent estate in Northwest DC!

toko baju muslim murah said...

Your article is very interesting Beautifull photos and great blog to read thank you

The Down East Dilettante said...

Wonderful. Very smart of the museum to do this insightful exhibit.

In case you've never seen it, this old Life Magazine article about Mrs. Post's lifestyle is terrific, including great photos of the exacting process of setting the table.

The Down East Dilettante said...

Helps when I reference an article if I also remember to include the Link:

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Dilettante - yes - images from that article are found throughout the exhibit as well as numerous other references. Too bad you're so far away -you'll have to come down to DC this fall to check it out once the glorious Maine weather is over!

ArchitectDesign™ said...

Windlost -you would LOVE it and I don't think your husband would be bored either. Next trip!
Kerry -you have to come up to DC to come to Hillwood!

Karena said...

Dear Stefan I would be so thrilled to see this exhibit! Stunning and so meticulous! Her wardrobes fascinate me as well! Thank you so much for sharing a bit with us!

A Featured Artful Giveaway
Art by Karena

Paisley Curtain said...

Fascinating! thanks for taking us along with you. It is must be more fascinating to be there in person

Blue said...

I have just caught up with this – I tell you, being retired takes up sooooo much of one's time – and it's wonderful. We are planning a trip to DC in the Fall and I see the exhibition is still on at that time.

I think I'll enjoy it as much as you did. Beautiful.

Lord Cowell said...

It's a rainy day here, and I had put some coffee on to brew and thought I would have a quick catch up with your blog, and an hour later I remembered the coffee was still brewing! Always nice to get lost in your interesting posts. David.

Unknown said...

Very interesting! Such a great post and original content! Love it. Such huge variety in styles shown in various rooms. I loved her fashions and closets. Thanks for this tour!
xo Nancy

Rose C'est La Vie said...

Oh Stefan, I WAS Marjorie Merriweather Post for the duration of this post. Just not long enough. I could have lived like that, owned those rainbow shoes, wiggled my toes in that doggy bath mat.

You always give such a great tour with no stone unturned. Thank you. x

Thomas Hogglestock said...

My favorite room in the house is the kitchen. I could really cook in there.

Rose C'est La Vie said...

This was absolutely riveting. Love the wet bar and MMP's closets. Always behind the scenes is the best.